Isolation Revelations

My thoughts about physical distancing are not earth shattering or original. We are all in this pandemic together learning as we go, scrolliing through the same Facebook memes, facing the same fears and shortages, laughing at the same jokes that make cyclical rounds on social media and offering optiimistic encouragement when we see the need. But what the heck. It is deadline time and I don’t have a brilliant…ha…column idea so here are some of my self-revelations during my extended hours at home.

*Why did I have the urge to eat nearly ALL of my newly-purchased snacks during my first two days of self-isolation? Chocolate chip granola bars, microwave movie popcorn, ginger ale, Dove dark chocolate candies, salt and vinegar chips are all items I do not normally keep on hand. Good thing, but when reality began to set in, my comfort foods vanished quickly. I don’t even particularly like granola bars. Those items aren’t necessities so there is no special trip to the grocery for junk food alone. Now my gallant fella is doing my grocery shopping for me; I feel like he is entering a mine field every time. Precautions are taken all around, but those who don’t take this seriously are scary and they pop up everywhere.

*How could I go a whole day without brushing my hair? That ponytail band was all tangled up and it was not fun getting it out. It hurt and I had no one else to blame. Fresh insight on my mother’ impulse decades ago to take me to a salon to have my ponytail cut off above the rubber band. Second grade school photos were comical – unruly curls at ear length and missing front teeth – but Mom’s daily battles ended. I could run a brush through my own tenderhead of hair. Nope, I wouldn’t do that now, I don’t think. My bangs are starting to bug me, though.

*I do not skip brushing my teeth. I might be doing that more. It seems to be an instant mood-lifter.

*Boiled eggs – cheap, easy and versatile. Great alone as a meal or a snack, or mashed in tuna to perfect that salad or deviled for the ultimate fancy cuz-I-deserve-it treat. Normally one must eat boiled eggs strategically or it poses embarrassing etiquette dilemmas, so this social distancing means I can have all I want when I want with no one to notice but the cat. A note. All this extra time on my hands has not increased my patience peeling the boiled egg. I once peeled 100 to make 200 deviled eggs. That was almost fun. Peeling a dozen for myself, however, seems to take hours. Doing the task with mounting frustration mounts the mess. Wonder if music would help. Should I try peeling to Moon River or Who Let the Dogs Out?

*Netflix subscripton charges have been deducted from my account since before retirement 12 years ago. (Was it 12? The way I sense the passage of time is all topsy-turvy as I adjust to so many days in the same place doing similar things seeing the same…cat). It isn’t a great expense but it has been a wasted one till now, especially since I tossed my television and dish service maybe 4 years ago. If movies/television show options are indicative of societal trends – oh my! So much of it is really weird to this columnist – a member of one of the more vulnerable brackets in this pandemic. Even the trailers will shock/scare/gross out to the point that I sometimes give up before making a selection. Enough of them have lured me in and would have been quite enjoyable had I not eaten all my microwave movie popcorn before I reintroduced myself to at-home viewing. Do you have any favorites to suggest? I am branching out and sampling genres I used to avoid, expanding beyond romantic comedies, a little.

*The laptop is my connection to everyone and everything right now. It even takes me to church. Sometimes I set it aside to walk around the yard, to talk to my perplexed cat, to take a nap, to hunt down that book I’ve been wanting to read or to fix a meal. The news, the factual stuff, is overwhelming. I have developed a system to avoid some of the hype that increases my anxiety and go straight to the sources that give facts and offer steps to deal with the crises developing in real time on all our screens. It has been a great eye-opener. We are coping due to tremendous sacrificial efforts by a task force that includes workers of all ages, all education/training levels, all genders, all races, all nationalities. Locally the contributions of our city and county leaders, our eateries, our health care workers in all categories, our school personnel still at it and highly concerned about the welfare of the students they are missing, all of those that provide a sense of normalcy in this turbulent period – like the postoffice workers, delivery services, newpapers, and businesses that offer healthy diversions like the garden nurseries and online auctions. I know I can’t name them all. Many, many are making masks for those serving covid-19 patients and the general public directly. So many to thank and appreciate. Then there are those who cannot work due to job loss or temporary closure of services deemed non-essential. Stress, frustration, fear, despair and grief are palpable.

*I have often only half-jokingly said I want to live to be 100. When this passes and we are in our ‘new’ normal, for undoubtedly there will be changes, I hope we are a kinder, more appreciative and more caring nation, devoting time to family, friends and causes that matter more in the long run, to make a long life a blessed one that blesses others.

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Pandemic Ponderings

To you this might seem a collection of spontaneous thoughts scribbled on various post-it notes, napkin corners, envelope flaps and receipts, but nope. There ARE those, but I am not bored enough yet to resort to that scavenger hunt. The jottings of song titles and/or artists, rhymes, cool phrases, names of NPR interviewees, gotta-read-that-one-book titles and possible column topics are sensible only to me, maybe, on a clear day when I can see the reasons for their existence.

*The jottings that follow are random experiences associated with this pandemic life of mine outlined in solitude, filled with music and smelling a bit like clorox – and brownies. Appreciation is the link

*The clink of ice cubes in a favorite cobalt blue glass. I associate that sound with barbecues and Koolaid, Saturday night TV viewing with RC and popcorn, sweet tea on the porch or swing, and full ice cube trays! I cleaned out my freezer, threw away some unrecognizable stuff from the last century, and filled the trays. Nothing says home like making yourself an iced drink. Even water seems fancier that way. Hooray for ice cube trays and the discipline to keep them filled!

*The ringing of a phone. When did we morph into a talkless society, relying on texts to communicate all things stern, serious, sorrowful and silly? During this time of physical distancing, I get to craving the human voice, even my own. I read aloud sometimes, and the cat listens, but there is a bit lacking in all that one-sided jabbering. Hooray for the phone which means there is a human voice calling to connect!

*Print – all things written for me to read. My brain doesn’t feel like it is stagnating, though my limbs might offer a different perspective. I’m a person who prefers to read print on paper but these days I am practicing having an open mind toward print on screens. That means my crap-o-meter is getting a workout, but hey, I have the time and am developing quick delete/swipe skills. So hooray for all those who write or have written so I have infinite reading resources!

*Colors – They are perking up my downtimes, piquing my interests in flowering plants/trees and motivating me to plant more. Autumn is my favorite season, but this spring has provided a refreshing and much-revered panorama across the spectrum. I took a drive to rekindle memories of the former Dogwood Trail that the Forest Service once had maps of. (Let me know, please, if you run across one). A 1971 Prospect-News article briefly outlined the route. Dogwoods may not have peaked yet in their magnificence, but my Thursday drive out 160W to Ripley County Lake, across Buffalo Creek, down V highway to Fourche Lake and back home via 142 thrilled me with both redbuds and dogwoods vividly featured in the early April landscape. I don’t want to downplay man-made hues. I love them, too! I hit the jackpot on my drive through colorful nature, wearing a long-sleeved tie-dyed tee and accompanied by my favorite passenger. It was like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, for I crossed paths -appropriately distant – with my son Anthony at work on one of the Forest Service roads. Hooray for Mother Nature’s palette!

*Screens – I have praised and cursed all devices with technological secrets I can’t decipher, with more cursing than praising going on, metaphorically speaking, of course. Often I felt like I was fiddling with a safe’s tricky combination when facing a screen on any device, even the car’s dashboard. Since he was eight years old and assembled our Tandy computer, my son has been telling me to “chill, take a deep breath, it will be okay” when I encounter frazzling screen dilemmas. He has thwarted many a breakdown with a simple “See the _? Hit that, Mom.” He is either a wizard or he just knows his mom’s craziness. Now those same screens are keeping me socially connected. No distance requirements there. Screens, too, are also helping me worship at this holy time. I am appreciative of those who make use of the technology and are patient with me as I am introduced to apps like Zoom, which allows worship together in real time, or Facebook Live, when again I can see, hear and learn in real time. All is then posted for later reference. God knows I’m here. I so appreciate fellow humans using their connections and knowledge to remind me of that. Hooray for the love that screens make it possible to share!

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2018 Valentines

Guys, if you don’t remember, this is your hint. Today is February 14th. Yeah so, you say?

I’ll spell it out. It’s V-A-L-E-N-T-I-N-E’s Day, fellas. There is still time to get flowers,  chocolates, cutesy stuffed animals or romantically mushy cards at the fully inflated prices before day’s end.  Even though your significant other might not let on, she will know you almost forgot. Females never forget THIS day, though she might hold on to her gift for you until you produce one for her, to keep from embarrassing you and creating undue drama.

And IF she told you, when the February page flipped up on the calendar, that she didn’t want or expect anything from you, to save your money, that you need a trailer hitch or another gun, a box of ammo or a sixth hunting dog, DON’T BELIEVE HER. It’s a trap she doesn’t even realize she’s setting. She just THINKS she means what she says.

So, get a card, quick. Oh, please do remember to SIGN it, and on this day don’t forget to put the ‘L’ word by your name cause it’s a given you are not gonna write a sentence or two.  Remember, YOUR name goes on the inside and HERS goes on the envelope. And no, No, NO! A text message or e-card is NOT okay.

After you hand it to her, and you are seeing the look that means – “Well, at LEAST he got me a card” – you can whip out the surprise ‘just for her’ that you grabbed at the gas station or grocery store as you scrambled after work; you didn’t do the smarter thing – skipping lunch to shop before the selections were picked over.
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Depending on your choices and the gap in significance between what she handed you and what you gave her, you gave it your best last – minute shot. Fingers crossed for you that the rest of the day goes well.

Let the good times roll.  (Oh, wait! That was YESTERDAY)!

This was originally written for my Close to Home column in the Prospect-News, the local weekly newspaper in Doniphan,Missouri. Mari Gras was the day before Valentine’s Day in 2018.

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When I Needed an Online Dating Profile

Once upon a time…it was NOT a dark and stormy night…The dark and stormy feelings were over, giving me the bold, clean-slate mindset to give online dating a trial. It is no longer a consideration. It didn’t help, though I did have interesting first encounters nearby with several. Perhaps the info I included in the profile was lacking in a major way, but if I were intrigued enough beyond the first date, the fella wasn’t or vice-versa. What worked for me was getting to the point where I enjoyed my own company going places and doing activities that would increase my interactions with folks I had a little bit in common with, thereby increasing those life connections recognized as so important in maintaining a healthy, happy life. I didn’t want to compromise my values, nor did I want to lead someone on, using their company for just that when I felt I needed it. That approach worked without even realizing I was using one.

It might be fun to show this to him and see if it would have made him seek additional information, or if I had unintentionally composed a misleading one now that he knows me well. At any rate, it is a part of my journey. I want to keep it.

Profile

I love exploring places old and new…outdoors and in…parks, trails, natural wonders, odd museums. There is no need to be on the go all the time, though. I can explore from my favorite chair via books and magazines. Healthy living and healthy thinking are important to me, so I can remain active and adventurous, and of service to family and friends when needed. I love color, and I think I am a colorful soul, a bit spontaneous though appreciative of beneficial routines. Solitude doesn’t bother me when I have someone to share with later.
About the one I’m looking for…
Shared priorities of healthy living and healthy thinking would be great, along with a love of travel. It would be great to spend time with friends and family as well as time as a couple, to maintain individual interests as well as shared ones in a balanced way. Integrity is paramount. I appreciate free spirits who don’t necessarily have to agree with me about everything to enjoy my company. It is important to have the freedom to continue to evolve as the person I was meant to be, and to have a companion who wants the same.
I’d just like to add…
I am intrigued by self-sufficiency, though I in no way live like that. I find myself reading a lot about growing my own food, having a home supplemented by solar power. Wish I understood how to build a solar panel and then how to store the energy. I love reading, writing, learning new things, and lively discussions about whatever comes up.
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If I Could…

Pardon me while I search the paths in my gray matter to find the reason my initial answer to a for-fun Facebook question “If you could talk to anyone right now, who would it be?” was Mrs. Shaw. I assumed the question referred to one no longer living and I also assumed it was a given we all would love to speak to parents and best friends. I decided to open a door beyond those parameters.

Mrs. Shaw popped her head into that door. She was my second grade teacher before Christmas break that seventh year of my life. After Christmas she moved my desk to the other side of the room. Just like that she was my third grade teacher. 

Mrs. Shaw was like another grandmother. She wore belted chiffon-y flowered dresses, the swishy kind, stockings and low-heeled black pumps. Though we could wear britches under our dresses for cold walks to school, as long as we hung them in the cloak room during class time, she never wore them. Her more- salt-than-pepper hairdo was short, soft and pouffy and never hinted of perms. She knew how to do ANYTHING and EVERYTHING! She could print and do cursive, and she let me practice by printing and writing spelling words for two grades on the blackboard. She had so many books! When I ran out of books to read, she let me help others read so they could finish, too. She knew so many songs AND she could play the piano AND direct at the same time. I even learned to read the alto line. How did she manage to teach me that without my knowing? She taught us a lot about drawing so we probably didn’t need to go upstairs to the art teacher’s room ever, but she let us. She was so proud of the deep purple iris masterpiece I created for her. My parents were proud, too… well, astonished might be a better word…at my drawing I promised was not traced. She was kind, so kind. One of my feet itched really bad one time. She didn’t seem bothered when I asked permission to take off my saddle oxford and sock to scratch it. None of my classmates seemed bothered, either, and no one laughed.

Mrs. Whitmore, my fourth grade teacher who wore outfits that didn’t swish – skirts, blouses and sweaters – didn’t seem to mind that I ran to hug Mrs. Shaw as often as I could. And when I couldn’t find her to hug, Mrs. Whitmore and the principal called my mom to help explain to me why I wouldn’t see Mrs. Shaw anymore.  

To help her one more time, I was allowed to walk to all the classrooms beyond the four familiar ones on those shiny halls to get coins in a can for flowers for Mrs. Shaw. My parents and I got all dressed up as if for church to visit her. It didn’t seem right that her pretty flowered dress didn’t swish. Mrs. Shaw taught me about death, too. 

Fourth grade wasn’t fun after that. Mrs. Whitmore taught only one grade in her room, so she sent me to the principal’s office often to help deliver messages and sometimes answer a phone. She was never mean, but I didn’t wanted to hug her. She hugged me. That was okay, though they were different from Mrs. Shaw’s. 

Were Mrs. Shaw and I to chat now, what might I ask her? If I had the nerve, I might ask what she and my parents talked about when they visited school. It would be fun to know about her favorite teacher, the inspiration for her choice of professions. I would also ask her about the times she took us outside during class for marching. We stood in straight rows and turned sharply at her directions, moving in rhythm in different patterns across the playground. We did not talk, but we listened hard, and felt so proud. What was she up to? There’s a good chance I would let her teach me something new and save my questions for later. I would get in one more hug for sure. 

PS. It has occurred to me that I never knew her first name. Along that vein, I can’t recall the first names of ANY of my teachers until I moved to Doniphan for my last year of high school. Is that a small town phenomenon or attributable to the fact that I made my home here after college? Curious. Did none of them include their first names when signing report cards? Maybe not. I signed report cards as ‘Mrs. Jim Lee’ my first year. That might need some explaining if there are any young readers of this column, but please be assured I did not use a quill pen, a bottle of ink and an abacus to record grades. I had Bic pens and an adding machine, thank you.

This first appeared in the Oct.26 issue of my hometown weekly, The Prospect-News. I wrote it for my Close to Home column in that publication.

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SUNSHINE

SUNSHINE! Here you are! I have been missing you just as I missed seeing during holidays and vacations that high school boy (or maybe two) who gave me his ring. Sure, I remember their names, but they don’t come around any more, and when they did, it wasn’t nearly as regularly as you have been known to pop in. Where ya been? Our game of hide-and-seek has lasted too long. You don’t have to stay away because of covid-19. You’ve got this social distancing down to a science – 92.751 million miles, no more, no less, thank you. We could say about 93,000,000 for school tests, but ‘about’ is not good enough these days.

Soggy spring has missed you, too, though she tried to lift our spirits without you. With no sun to dry out her wardrobe, spring worked extra hard to don the first outifts through the mud and high water. The colors – yellows, whites, pastel pinks and an occasional standout red – were pleasing under gray skies but she needed the sun to spotlight the rest of the colors on the earth’s catwalk. Since your welcome appearance today, spring has decided to bring out the redbuds. Soon she will be flaunting their vibrant hues as the earth greens up to sport dogwood blossoms, a stunning accessory to spring’s fashion show. Gaudy? Never!

Sunny Boy, your appearance is an attitude changer and a mood booster. No one will dare complain about the heat you might generate, at least not yet, not on your first visit in a while. You see, Mr. Sunshine, you have drawn us out of our artificially lit abodes to walk through the drying earth in wonderful, bright natural light, you, the original provider of that full-spectrum frequency that battles the blues hanging around here. The songbirds’ serenades in varying keys and rhythms blend into the perfect ballad for long-awaited mind-clearing promenades or mindful meditations anywhere in your rays.

Some of us cannot walk hand in hand. Such a lonesome shame. Some circles these days are mighty limited, so expanding our possibilities for movement and offering a bit of extra outdoor space is gracious of you. Those among us working relentlessly for our general welfare might sense a soothing caress in your presence. Your touch is safe, healing and energy-giving.

You have mystical powers to decrease anxiety, to temporarily banish escalating fear, to open wide the windows of hope in our souls. If you go away, Mr. Sunshine, and you will, don’t stay away too long.

This first appeared in my town’s local weekly The Prospect-News on Wednesday, April 1, 2020 in the midst of covid-19 chaos and lots of rainy, gray days.img_3908img_9932

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Turning Twenty

This original lines of this poem – the ones in black – were written to celebrate the arrival of 2020. We are well into this new year, and what a shocker it has been thus far! We in Ripley County will be in flux for a while, as the schools will be closing tomorrow through April 3. The unknown can be unsettling. In a feeble attempt to practice social distancing during the coronavirus situation, I decided to meld a few more lines – the ones in italics.

*The twenty-first century is maturing.

That is debatable in light of covid-19.

Time flew through its adolescence.

Time will slow down now it will seem.

Will we manage a world hopefully enduring

The world is seeming a bit bizzare,

With love, peace and effervescence?

Think with caution wherever you are.

****—-****—-****—-****

*At its birth we used the word ‘millennial’

Our confident millennials are in for a shock.

And we all survived the Y2 Scare.

They might be tempted policies to mock.

But the growing pains seem perennial.

OK, Boomers. Admit it, you’re frazzeled, too.

Humanity and AI make quite a pair.

Our grndparents would know what to do.

****—-****—-****—-****

*Human connection is digitized,

But when it’s forced, no fair!

Lovers’ gazes aren’t face to face,

Till now. It seems a snare!

It’s via devices now romanticized,

Many together in a home’s few rooms

The world’s becoming a peculiar place.

Could usher in a new baby boom.

****—-****—-****—-****

*Paper is out, screens are in;

Toilet paper’s had a resurgence,

Reality is increasingly virtual.

It’s scarcity doesn’t make a lick a’ sense.

Privacy’s walls are growing thin.

Even so, don’t dare reach out and touch.

Finding the truth’s a trek unusual.

Even if you want to, oh so much!

****—-****—-****—-****

*Will its emerging adulthood provide a break

Be wary of what you ask for,

From time and technology speeding?

You might get it, that and much more.

Are there lessons for humanity’s sake

You bet, and we can be stubborn students,

We should slow down and start heeding?

Like being kinder, more generous and prudent?

****—-****—-****—-****

*We’ll ponder after the countdown and cake –

We’ll have the time in self-quarantine.

This century IS turning twenty –

With hands quite sterile and derrieres so clean.

No doubt we’ll have adjustments to make

If some lessons we learn

And wish for more birthdays a’plenty.

Unless recommendations we spurn.

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I Wonder…

My brain is full of years of friendships, experiences, knowledge and curiosities, and I hope I have a lot more time to cram new stuff in there. Old bits of stored info must not vanish, though, to make more room in my mind , because forgotten memories seem to pop up randomly. Surely there is some abstract connection that escapes my conscious at the moment they appear.

Here is a bumfuzzling list of recent random recollections along with some of the new questions they spark.

 

*Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” Did you sing it? I think that was a campfire chorus at either school camp, or church camp, or maybe Girl Scouts. Will today’s kids grow up with a deficit of cherished memories as they spend more and more time with devices? 

*What happened to our Dogwood Trail? Due to our timber industry, the configuration of our patches of woods is forever changing, but might I still see the remnants of the trail if I knew where to wander? DIdn’t we have signs and brochures? Where did they get off to? *Why did slant-six engines go away? From my limited mechanical perspective, that seemed the perfect engine. 

*I was not sure I could spell succotash, much less figure out if I had eaten it, but when the ingredients were shared, I could chime in and began to salivate as the memory of that summertime salad surfaced. Momo’s was the best because she picked the ingredients from her backyard garden, not from grocery shelves. I don’t think I have ever made one; that’s criminal. 

*Wonder what kind of bush that was in the back of the yard of the house where we lived when little sister was born? It provided the switches Mom used. That’s all I remember about it. I can’t visualize it with any green leaves or colorful blooms in the spring. (I made a point to check once upon a time. The bush was long gone). 

*I owned a coveted pair of hiphugger bellbottoms purchased with bottle caps. They were a patchwork of red and white geometrics with “It’s the real thing” plastered here and there and across the seat of the britches, too. Mom disapproved so she probably had something to do with their disappearance. She never said, and I never asked. I wore them only a couple of times, and then only to pump gas. 

*Speaking of pumping gas, didn’t I catch a glimpse of news that there would be a return of that service at gas stations? Bring it on.

*Where is our family fudge recipe? I want fudge like we made it. No one seems to do it whatever ‘that way’ was. Nothing compares. And how did Mom and Momo make their fried pie crust? I haven’t been able to replicate that, either. That is probably one of those recipes that was on record only in their heads along with their secret ways of making white gravy and cornbread.

*THIS year maybe I will get closer to creating that ideal coleus flower bed that haunts me.

*Why are there so few labyrinths in American parks?

*Where is Margo? She was a gal pal my first two years at college in Walnut Ridge.

These are just a few of the random memories that popped up lately. Don’t tell me if you don’t have them, too. *

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Rude Awakenings

Rude awakenings – those comedic twists that catch us off guard, sometimes funny only AFTER the fact.

*Discovering under fluorescent work lights that your socks or shoes don’t match. Seems a bigger deal when one shoe is blue and one is black. Easier to overlook mismatched socks. But at least my shoes matched in style! Back in my school days, if a comfy pair of shoes came in multiple colors, I snatched two or three pairs.

*Back when there was less of me and I tucked my blouses in, it was a shock to discover my slacks buttoned and belted, but not zipped! Two questions always surfaced quickly at that revelation. How long was I unzipped and why did no one tell me? In retrospect, eighth graders would get a lot of mileage out of it as long as I DIDN’T know.

*Shopping on a busy day, standing in a long line, piling groceries on the conveyor and realizing when the cashier is about finished that your wallet is lying on the car seat and your car is not parked close to the door.

*Some cats consider sardines a dessert or a treat, not a main course. Can’t realize you forgot to get cat food and not hear about it.

*Time to do laundry. No clean underwear.

*Walking lickety-split to your car in a crowded parking lot, mentally patting yourself on the back because you remembered where it was, but wait, what is wrong? It won’t open! Or worse, whose stuff is this in my car and why is it not starting?

*Out of toilet paper.

*I still have but seldom wear one of those long skirts that for some reason used to get caught in the back of the panty hose waistband after a restroom break. Always an embarrassing discovery.

*Totally missing an appointment/meeting that you had on your calendar, prepared for and dressed for. Once I surprised my own substitute by showing up when I should have been elsewhere.

*Following the treasure hunt, realizing those favored relaxed-fit jeans, well-loved and well-worn and perfect for a relaxed-fit February Saturday drive, will not button or zip. How did that happen?

Few are resistant to life’s sporadic uh-oh’s. We get busy. Minds get crammed with details. These little detours provide comic relief and gentle reminders to take a break, recover and/or regroup, and carry on.

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Meat from Feral Hogs Donated from Private Hunt

This was written for my Close to Home column in my town’s (Doniphan, MO) local weekly newspaper The Prospect-News.

Blame this column on a Facebook post – the one that showed a row of dead feral hogs and advertising the meat for free distribution to anyone needing it. Based on MDC regulations discontinuing the hunting of this pest and the mounting controversy over such a declaration, compounded by the bowing of USDA Forest Service to MDC policy prohibiting the hunting in Mark Twain National Forest, I was curious how 123 hogs met this fate. Local activist and friend Jim Smith led me in the right direction for details.

Missouri State Representative Chris Dinkins of District #144 phoned with information. The hunt was organized by constituents in her district. It was a two-day competition among eleven teams, five members each, on private land. The 123 hogs killed provided almost 8000 pounds of meat for donation. About two hundred folks showed up on a Sunday afternoon at the Quick Mart in Centerville/Ellington area for the distribution. The group hopes to have monthly hunting competitions till late spring.

Dinkins shared with me her steps to make MDC more accountable. The four commissioners on the MDC are appointed by the governor to regulate policy for the state’s eight conservation regions. Her first proposal – HJR 108 – calls for increasing the membership to nine, one for each region elected by its voters plus one governor appointee. This change would give rural areas more representation.

She also filed HJR 112 which would give voters the chance to redirect some of the money generated by the conservation sales and use tax. It is her belief that MDC operates as a fourth branch of the state’s government, with no accountability and a savings account balance of almost $100 million. If HJR 112 passes, ⅓ of the current ⅛ cent tax would go to MDC, ⅓ to the veterans’ commission and ⅓ to the sexual assault forensic examination program.

She did not stop with the two proposed constitutional amendments. Dinkins has also filed House Concurrent Resolution 81 to urge the Forest Service to abolish its ruling that prohibits the hunting of feral hogs in MTNF.

Our Missouri State Representative is Jeff Shawan. Here is a chance to share your wishes with our elected representative. It would be great for him to hear from a lot of his constituents in District #153 about HJR 112, HJR 108 and Resolution 81. Remember that voting districts are determined by population, so our 2020 census has great significance.

Jeff Shawan

Missouri House of Representatives

201 West Capitol Avenue, Room 415-B

Jefferson City, Missouri 65101

Phone: 573-751-1066

Email: Jeff.Shawan@house.mo.gov

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